Five hospitals have enrolled so far for an observational study being conducted by ICMR to assess the efficacy of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication against COVID-19 among healthcare personnel.
Five hospitals -- AIIMS Jodhpur,Maulana Azad MedicalCollege andSirGanga Ram HospitalinDelhi, Apollo Hospital in Chennai and AIIMS, Patna have been enrolled in the12-week long study launched in the first week of May,DrRajnikantSrivastava, head of Department of Research Management, Policy Planning and Communication at the Indian Council of Medical Research in Delhi said.
Dr Suman Kanungo, Scientist at the ICMR who is coordinating the study, said healthcare workers including doctors, nurses, paramedics and sanitation workers who are taking care of COVID-19 patients and working in COVID areas in these five hospitals have been enrolled in this observational study.
"The aim is to evaluate the incidence of coronavirus infection among healthcare workers who are taking hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis," Dr Kanungo said, adding that the side-effects will also be estimated.
"Any adverse event following intake of the drug will be noted and analysed in this structured study," the scientist said.
"There is a plan to enrol around 1,500 healthcare workers in the study. All those participating in the study would undergoCOVID-19test before they are beingenrolled and every two weeks henceforth," Dr Kanungo said.
"There will be no intervention from our side. Healthcare workers who are taking hydroxychloroquine will be followed for twelve weeks," the scientist said.
According to an ICMR official, there is limited evidence on the efficacy ofhydroxychloroquineto deal with COVID-19 cases and therefore, there is not enough proof to advise it for general public use as of now.
The ICMR has recommendedthe use of the drug as a preventive medication to healthcare workers andhouseholdcontacts looking after a positive case.
Besides, theUnion Health Ministry has also recommendedthe use ofHydroxychloroquinein combination with Azithromycin on COVID-19 affected patients suffering with severe disease and requiring ICU management.
Hydroxychloroquine is one among the four treatment protocolsthat is being evaluated during therandomised controlled clinical trialsunder the WHO's Solidarity trial to find an effective treatment for COVID-19 across selected hospitals.
The other three treatment protocols areRemdesivir, combination of Lopinavir and RitonavirandLopinavir and Ritonavir with Interferon beta-1a.
Hydroxychloroquineis an old and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria. India is the largest producer of the drug globally.
Hydorxychloroquine recently failed in two separate randomised controlled trials conducted in China and France, the findings of which were published in the BMJ journal onMay 15.
The number of coronavirus cases crossed the one lakh mark in the country on Tuesday, while the death toll due to the infection touched 3,163, according to the Union Health Ministry.
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